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Is the Content Explosion Harming the Planet and Our Budgets?

Global investment and production consultant MCA explores the environmental and financial costs of asset waste in an age of multi-channel marketing

Is the Content Explosion Harming the Planet and Our Budgets?

According to the latest State of Branding report by Bynder, 85% of marketers report that they have seen an increase in the demand for content in their organisation due to the pandemic and subsequent shift to an even more digital world. 

What’s more, over 90% of marketers in video, design, creative, brand strategy and digital marketing roles, say that creating more content to meet the rising demand is the biggest impact that comes with corporate digital transformation initiatives. 

The problem is the increased complexity of channels and an increased number of assets, paired with reduced timeframes, has increased inefficiencies between traditional functional silos of media, creative, production, versioning and storage. And according to numerous client feedback we are currently receiving, between 20-40% of digital assets that are being created are never even being used. “If you’re making something and it doesn’t see the light of day, we now know about it thanks to our partnership with Extreme Reach. We know for sure if an asset makes it to air or not. Unused and wasted assets are a huge issue for the industry because we know that the most sustainable form of production is no production at all. That’s why reuse of materials and assets is by far the most sustainable form of production out there coupled with the minimisation of wastage by ensuring that we only make the things that we then use,” says Pat Murphy, CEO and founder of MCA. 

The wastage is both environmental and financial. And with 47% of consumers stating that they have stopped buying products and services that negatively impact on the environment and society (according to Kantar’s Sustainable Marketing 2030 Report), this likely also has an impact on sales.

So… how about we don’t produce at all?

Now this might sound odd, but hear me out. Yes, marketing assets are required in order to convey messages, drive sales and awareness, and so on. But, did you know that up to 40% of assets created are never used? This is particularly true for digital.

To address the issues currently being faced, better upfront planning is required. We need clearer briefs from clients to agency partners, and we need to get it right the first time.

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

We may all be familiar with the phrase reuse, repurpose and recycle when it comes to products, but the same practice can be applied to assets. Much like fast fashion, the ad industry is constantly looking for the ‘new’ - and this has led to an unhealthy attitude towards asset creation in the pursuit of something fresh.

But does new necessarily mean best?

After its first airing in 1973, the famous Hovis Boy on the Bike ad was remastered and brought back to our screens in 2019, introducing the advert to a new generation who still appreciate its “core message of hard work, family and the strength of community”. This led to the ad being voted the UK’s most “heartwarming and iconic advert” in a survey of 1200 consumers.

Think back to some of the most successful campaigns. How many other assets from these memorable ads could be reused and brought back to life? From the Guinness Surfer Ad (With Horses) to Cadbury’s Gorilla and The Guardians 1986 Points of View, I bet the cut through and impact of these campaigns, if aired again today, would be great.

So how do we encourage the practice of reusing, repurposing and recycling?

It all starts with tracking the life-cycle of an asset from start to finish to truly assess its efficiency and effectiveness. By ensuring that assets are stored using a digital asset management tool (DAM) and are tracked and tagged with right metadata, you can increase accessibility for anyone that needs to access particular assets and manage multiple assets clearly and efficiently. In fact, reports by Bynder, demonstrate that correct storage and visibility lead to 80% increased reuse of existing assets and 86% improved collaboration within marketing organisations.

If we can flip our traditionally linear approach to asset creation into a circular approach, not only can we increase an asset’s life cycle, but we can make better and great choices that are environmentally and financially beneficial. 

Embrace New (and Existing) Technology

If the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us that what we once thought was impossible can be possible. We went from flying hundreds of people over for a shoot, to dialling in directors and teams remotely to deliver highly successful work without dropping quality. 

So why has this not continued? We’re seeing a worrying rise in production going ‘back to the good bad old days’. Why slip back into bad habits when we now have the technology to enable us to do the same and more, for less environmental/financial impact?

Take Reckitt’s successful 2022 pilot which saw it pioneering to move the majority of its marketing production projects to virtual production. From a corporate perspective, virtual production allows Reckitt to meet several major marketing challenges in one swoop – the need for more assets, the need for greater creativity and the need to lower budgets. 

With great planning, you can combine shoots and activity using one team in one place.

Walk the Walk

With increasing consumer scepticism towards greenwashing, environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards and regulations are becoming a prevalent force in how organisations operate across every part of a business - whether through the collection and use of their data, their sustainability credentials, treatment of staff or the scouring of raw materials. This is well documented in WFA’s 2022 report, Global Guidance on Environmental Claims.

Therefore, sustainability credentials are becoming more important than ever if brands want to successfully connect with their consumers, especially with regards to gen z. In a 2022 survey, 60% of consumers stated that they believe trustworthiness and transparency are the most important traits of a brand, an increase from the year before.

To address this, tracking, reporting and providing evidence of change will be critical. For the industry, there are a number of tools and resources (such as AdGreen) to use and report on sustainability initiatives. Yet despite widespread support for such initiatives, we are still seeing agencies wanting a ‘return to normal’ - even requesting more people back on shoots when travel is the largest (60%) contributor to the carbon footprint of a production.

So it is no surprise that transparency in certain parts of the advertising industry still remains a problem. From agency groups trading media internally to the true cost of digital, complex and fragmented supplier networks, and white labelling to name a few.

Clients, agencies and production partners must work together if we are going to make significant progress. If clients stipulate action the industry will follow, but it must be reinforced by a change in behaviour and leadership.

Before falling back on what used to be the ‘norm’, consider:

  • Do brand managers need to be on a shoot when technology can facilitate remote shooting and viewing?
  • In turn, how many agency people need to be in attendance?
  • How can you use more green energy?
  • How can you bundle production and combine multiple shoots in one?
  • How can virtual production be incorporated to avoid the need for sets being rebuilt?

Be brave and challenge the inertia within many agency groups to embrace new ways of working and new technology. Adopt training and support for marketing teams to give them confidence to ask the right questions. And engage independent experts in specialist areas to do the heavy lifting, holding the process and partners to account.

view more - The Sustainability Channel
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Genres: Storytelling, Stock Footage

Murphy Cobb & Associates, Fri, 26 May 2023 13:12:29 GMT